Just when I think I’ve seen the best that Trion has thrown at us for RIFT, they up the ante on me. There’s one word I can use as my impression of the Golem boss fight I was run through, “Wow!” Storm Legion is the first expansion to the game Rift coming the end of 2012 and here are the bare facts of what players will get: A chronicle, two new continents, three raids, four additional souls, seven new dungeons, ten more levels. Dimensions (which is Rift's form of player housing) will go in game and so will capes which are not merely cosmetic and carry stat buffs.
I was shown the new world map with the two new continents, Dusken and Brevante, which looked to me to more than double the current land masses of Mathosia and Ember Isle. Not that every square inch will be fully stuffed to the gills with content as we have to have enough space for patches and updates, but that is still a massive amount of new content that players can explore and quests, events and rifts to discover.
It was an exciting demo with Trion VP of Development, Russ Brown showing me various areas. Crucia is gathering her Storm Legion and building a power plane system in the cradle of the lost civilization and the environment and architecture have a techy look with whirring gears and sparks of lightning, gear motifs, relics of long non-functioning clockwork systems run by magic are found in the landscape. I got a glimpse of the Golem Foundry as well, a level 54 play area. A few names were tossed out as we bounced around in game. A giant beating “heart” in the Imperium Core which was an eerie mix of plant and animal elements, an area named Ashora, teasers of fighting the last two dragons in the world, Regulos and Crucia, but we finally came to the heart of the demo, the golem boss.
We ran through the ruins of an abandoned civilization with huge buildings and causeways, to an installation in the side of a mountain which came to live in a grinding of magic and gears and an armored golem emerged, unfolding his limbs from where he rested, jumping down to stomp flat many in the circle of supplicants that had raised him. Talk about massive. He was as tall as the mountain he emerged from and a player would not be able to see over his little toe. By the way, if you get stomped flat in his summoning, you do get an achievement – “Wrong place, wrong time.”
This particular boss has armor pieces that players need to destroy sequentially. A tell-tale red reticule will show which area the current target is and as they destroy it, the pieces that fall off become power-ups to assist the combatants. The boss is also reactive, favoring the areas that lose armor pieces, exhibiting new behaviors to protect himself. He also powers up a massive chest piece with a muzzle that unloads a stream of destruction and when he started that, we ran for a jump pad and jumped right into that stream to gather up our own unique one use ability to use against him.
“It’s going to be so cool,” said Russ, “to see 50 players all hitting the jump pads simultaneously, hurling themselves at him.”
Quite a spoiler right in a demo, I expressed, but according to Russ, it would not have remained a secret or spoiler beyond the first encounter.
“Our players will discover that right off,” he said, “and they share a lot as well, discussing on the forums the best ways to take down bosses.”
The behemoth broke away from the fight after he lost a couple pieces of armor. He jumped up upon a massive causeway which cracked under his weight and then broke down a wall almost as tall as he in an effort to get away. That effort opened up a new area with playable content that was previously inaccessible to players.
This wasn’t a trailer by the way, but an in-game event demo, and we watched again without the developer elevated fly through view, but from the perspective of a player character which actually proved more awe inspiring as I could appreciate better how massive the golem truly was, hustling around on that awesomely fat but fast crocodile mount.
All in all, the “Wow” was for the graphical details in RIFT. The visuals, the animation, the details that all combine to make some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in MMOs. Rift: Storm Legion will be out by the fall of 2012. Pricing has yet to be announced. But if the rest of its content looks and plays this well, it'll be worth it no matter the cost.